Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day018.19 Last-Modified: 2000/07/24 MR IRVING: I am also trying not to lead evidence. I have tried to restrict it to asking questions in difficult circumstances. When you say in the fifth line of that page 33 that there are hundreds of historians, so that you rather imply that my criticism is a bit overreaching, that I imply that I am the only one with a thorough knowledge, and of course there are hundreds of historians, would you accept that that applies to the situation now at the end of the 20th century, the beginning of the 21st century, . P-163 rather than back in the 1970s when there were relatively few who had this knowledge of the archives. Is that correct? A. Well, the point I am making there is that, to quote the previous sentence, that simply to concentrate on biographies of Hitler is to deliver a completely misleading account of the state of research in the field in which you work. As I say, somewhere in the report, I think research in the archival material really began in a serious way in the 1960s and the 1970s, but of course we are concerned here not just with the 1977 edition of your book but also with the 1991 edition of your book, in which you make the same sweeping condemnations of professional historians as you did in 1977. If you think that the situation has change in the intervening period, then I think you should have said so. Q. I draw attention, witness, purely to the fact that you are talking about there are hundreds, and that this report is written now of course and not in the 1970s, and would you in the 1970s or 1960s have said there are hundreds of historians who were equally capable? Would you have written that sentence back at the time that I wrote these books? A. In the 60s I would probably have said scores, by the 70s probably hundreds. If you take the Institut fur Zeitgeschichte in Munich alone, they have a very . P-164 substantial staff, and there are many other institutes, the Institute of Contemporary History in London, Yad Vashim and many other institutes which were around in the 1970s which did employ professional historians who did archival work on Germany in the second world war. Q. Witness, what is your opinion of the Nuremberg records, the printed Nuremberg volumes, the blue series and the American dream series, the Nazi conspiracy and aggression, would you consider them to be a source that you would recommend to students to use as source books? A. Yes. You use them yourself. Q. In what respect do you suggest that I use them myself? Do I use them as a reference to go to, to check up on something, or do I use them as the basic quarry in which I mine for the original sources on which to write books? A. You use them in your work. You use them in this proceedings. Q. Are you not familiar with these strictures that I place on the use of the transcripts of the Nuremberg trials? Are you not familiar with the fact that I allege that there are discrepancies? A. Would you give me an example? Q. I can only ask you questions. MR JUSTICE GRAY: No. Do not feel inhibited to that sort of question. MR IRVING: I will give an example in this direction, but first . P-165 of all I will ask a question, if I may. Witness, have you ever listened to the wire or tape recordings of the proceedings at Nuremberg and compared them with the blue volumes, the printed text? A. No, I have not. Q. Now I will answer your question. I have done precisely that for one entire day and compared the blue volumes with the testimony given by a man whose biography I wrote, Field Marshal Milsch, and that was sufficient to put me off those transcripts for life. A. Well, first of all, I think I would like to see an accurate transcript and the inaccurate transcript, and secondly, Mr Irving, you have just criticised me for making sweeping statements about your work on the basis of reading a selection of it, and here you are, having read one day's transcript of the Nuremberg trials, and condemning the lot. Q. Yes, if you find one source is polluted, would you not tend to go to a different well spring and drink from somewhere else, put it like that? You would not just say, well, just this one cupful of water had the strichnine in it but the rest is probably OK? Would you put it like that? A. I do not think that is a very happy comparison. Q. Are you familiar with the bound volumes, the American printed volumes, of the documents that were used at . P-166 Nuremberg? A. Yes. Q. Have you noticed one distinguishing feature about the selection of documents that is made? Would I be right in saying that the documents that are printed are purely the documents used for the prosecution and that not one single Defence document has been printed in those 46 volumes? A. I think that is right, yes. Q. You think that is right? A. Yes. Q. Does this suggest to you that this might possibly lead to a skewed or distorted version of history if one was to write history relying extensively or partly or to any significant extent on a corpus of evidence where only the prosecution case was in print and the Defence case was not represented at all? A. No. Q. As far as exhibits are concerned? A. I think you are quite right in saying, if you relied on the Nuremberg documents exclusively, and you did read anything else, then of course that would be very unsatisfactory. Q. I refer you back to your paragraph 2.3.7 where you refer admonishingly (if the word exists) to the major documentary collections that have been generally available to historians for decades, tons of captured German . P-167 documents to prepare their indictments in the Nuremberg trials and many of these were printed in the published record of the trials. You do not mention the fact that the only ones printed are the prosecution documents, do you? A. The point I am trying to make, Mr Irving, in this paragraph, is simply that there was an enormous amount of material available for studying the Third Reich and its policies in the Second World War. That is all I am trying to make. I am not making any statements about how reliable any of these documentary recollections might be. Q. Yes, but just on the basis of the last two or three minutes of cross-examination, it does appear that I have applied a more critical mind to these document collections than you have, and you are the scholar and I am the amateur. You are the gentleman and I am the player. A. That may appear to you. It certainly does not appear to me. It is very, very general. It is a very general paragraph, vast new masses of documents, both official and private in provenance have become available, widely available to scholars. This is not an area of history like the 5th century when historians had to make do with sparse and obscure source material. I am simply trying to make the point to help the court reach an assessment of this case, that this is an area where there is an enormous mass of material available. That is all I am trying to . P-168 say. You know, I am trying to say it as briefly as I can, to keep the report short. I do not then want to go into a great long disposition about how much is reliable and how much is not. Q. You are saying that this paragraph is waffle, really, is it not? MR JUSTICE GRAY: I think we have spent enough time on this paragraph, Mr Irving, I am going to say just this as well. I have some sympathy with you because, after all, these first 70 to 100 pages are there, and they contain material which I fully understand you regard as offensive. I am not saying you are right to regard them as being offensive, and that is why you are going through them, but in the end the bit that matters starts about page 106. MR IRVING: The detailed criticisms? MR IRVING: You are absolutely right, my Lord, but I would regard this part of the cross-examination as going to the credibility of the witness. MR JUSTICE GRAY: Yes. Well, in parts I think it has, and again I cannot absolutely stop you. MR IRVING: My Lord, you can stop me at any time. MR JUSTICE GRAY: I can. What I mean is that I am not going to stop you because I think some at any rate of these questions based on these passages are probably legitimate. If I give you another hint, and it is only a . P-169 hint at this stage, that I am not really finding this of any particular value to the task I have to perform, then perhaps you would pass on through it a bit more rapidly. A. Perhaps I can help too? MR JUSTICE GRAY: Well ---- A. At least one of the questions which Mr Irving has asked is already dealt with in my responses to his written questions, so we are going ---- MR JUSTICE GRAY: He has not had a chance to look at those. A. I know. I think that is the problem. MR IRVING: At the risk of testing your Lordship's patience, still on page 33, three lines from the bottom: "This is not an area of history like the 5th Century when historians have to make do with sparse and obscure resource material to reconstruct what happened." Is this not precisely what we have been struggling to do for the last five weeks in this courtroom? A. No, I do not think so. Q. We have been struggling to reconstruct what happened not on the Eastern Front where we agree the documentation is there, but what happened, for example, to the Jews from Europe? MR RAMPTON: My Lord, I must intervene again. I think Mr Irving really has a misconception about what this case is about. We have not been struggling to reconstruct that . P-170 at all. What we have been struggling to reconstruct is Mr Irving's state of mind. MR JUSTICE GRAY: That true is, but is he not entitled to make the point to Professor Evans that one of the problems all historians have dealing, for example, with the issue of Hitler's knowledge of a genocidal gas extermination programme, that actually the documentary, leave aside the other material, is very sparse? MR RAMPTON: That is a perfectly fair point, but I do believe Mr Irving is -- that is a completely fair point and that is what the question I think started out as being ---- MR JUSTICE GRAY: I think it did, yes. MR RAMPTON: But it turned into what I have repeatedly perceived to be a misconception of what this case is about. This is not some historical tribunal of enquiry. MR JUSTICE GRAY: No. I think that does need to be said quite often, I agree. MR RAMPTON: It does. MR IRVING: It should not be a tribunal of historical enquiry, my Lord. On November 4th I did plead with your Lordship not to allow it to become an enquiry into what happened, because my submission was that this was not what that case was about. MR JUSTICE GRAY: I think everybody is agreed about that. MR IRVING: I think that now Mr Rampton realizes that particular bear skin has floated away down the river, he . P-171 is now trying to get back on to the other track again. MR JUSTICE GRAY: I am sure I follow what is meant by that. MR IRVING: I translated the German. MR JUSTICE GRAY: What, bear skins in German? MR IRVING: Yes. MR RAMPTON: Yes, but I still do not understand it. MR JUSTICE GRAY: We will not struggle to. We will get on. Next question. MR IRVING: I only have two more points to make, my Lord, in that case. This is at the foot of page 35, near the foot of it, paragraph 2.4.1. You are talking about evidence given after the event in the form of testimony in a public trial is relatively sound. Unless Mr Rampton has an objection, this is again quite a key issue. MR JUSTICE GRAY: That is a perfectly fair point. MR IRVING: Do you maintain, therefore, that what is stated in any tribunal, regardless of how long after the war, is sound? A. No. I have put the word "relatively" in there, and then of course I add, well, two sentences either side of that. The first is, the greater in distance the time of events to which they relate the more critically they must be examined, I think that is true. Q. This is a secondary source, is it not? A. I mean sources after the event, sources which are produced afterwards and rely on memory or the work of other . P-172 historians, and secondly that this court testimony must of course be assessed by an historian as to the purpose or purposes with which it was given. I am saying you have to regard it with caution. Q. Yes. A. As you do all material. It is, of course, the greater in distance in time the events the more critically one has to look.
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